SPOILER ALERT: There are lots of spoilers beneath this sentence. Lots of 'em. Read at your own risk.
Rachel Posner met a bitter end during House of Cards's binge-worthy third season, and thanks to Doug Stamper she's currently lying in a ditch somewhere in the great Southwest. Now, the actress who played her is telling us everything: how she kept her character's death a secret, why she's rooting for Team Claire, and what it's like living on just $1.50 per day for Live Below the Line's anti-poverty campaign.
Was it hard keeping Rachel's death under wraps? Did you break down and tell friends that she ends up being yet another victim of the Frank Underwood administration?
"I'm the worst secret keeper ever—it was so difficult. But I do know that saying anything to anyone would have ruined their experience watching the show, and that's what really made me keep my mouth shut. Who wants to get a spoiler like that? It ruins the whole experience. The only person I told by accident was one friend of mine who is really, really good at keeping secrets."
When did you find out that Rachel was going to be killed, and how do you feel about her character officially joining the ranks of Zoe Barnes in House of Cards heaven?
"I actually found out at the table read for the final episode. Like, two seconds before we walked in the room. It's devastating on the one hand, because this has been the most incredible experience I've ever had. It's been the most wonderful job I've ever had and may ever have again. And I will dearly miss this group of people who I've had the opportunity to work with over the last couple years. But I do think Rachel's death makes the most sense for the story, and I'm not sure it could have ended any other way. Everyone on this show is kind of a ticking time bomb."
Doug Stamper struggled with addiction throughout this season, and he was clearly addicted to Rachel––if not in love with her. Do you think Rachel returned his feelings on any level? Was her apology sincere?
"I think it's probably better to keep those questions alive, to leave that a little bit up to audience interpretation. I definitely think their relationship is complicated. And I'm not sure there really is a clear answer to that. They both felt a lot of feelings toward each other, and the nature of their relationship has changed so much from the first season to the last. I will say that all the stuff she said in the van was not just a ploy. She is trying to survive, but I don't think that it was bullshit by any means."
What was it like filming those final moments with Michael Kelly? You don't work directly with any other primary cast members this season, so it's almost as if you two are playing out your own mini-drama.
"It's such a strange thing to be part of a show and to really have never worked with any of the other actors. Working with Michael has been one of the biggest privileges I've ever been granted as an actor. I can't possibly think of somebody who is more hard-working, dedicated, kind, smart, and giving as an actor. He has been such a huge support for me from the get-go. He's been so good to me, and he's definitely the one I'm going to miss most. Michael's incredible, and how amazing was he this season?"
Rachel's death implies that do-overs aren't a reality—at least not on House of Cards. She tries to veer off the course that Francis has laid out for her, and is killed as a result. Meanwhile, Claire also makes the decision to veer off course this season. Do you think Rachel's failure to gain independence foretells Claire's?
"That's really interesting. I hope not. I really hope not. I suppose that if it does foretell Claire's, then it also must foretell Francis's. It must mean that no one is safe. For a long time Rachel was a hope that veering off course is a possibility, and I hope that she's not the last."
Was there an underlying significance to Rachel telling Doug about how she needed to pee while trapped in the van? That moment in their conversation seemed weighted—was Rachel hoping she could somehow appeal to his fetishes?
"I think that was just her first real clear-headed attempt to maybe make an escape. That if he had granted her that, and if he had pulled over and opened the back of the van, maybe she would have been able to get out."
Are you Team Francis or Team Claire?
"I have to say I'm Team Claire. I just think Claire is such a badass, and is more capable than anyone gives her credit for of going it on her own, and taking things into her own hands. And Francis has ruled with such an iron fist for so long at this point, I'd love to see a rock get thrown in. I can't wait to see what happens."
Let's talk about Live Below the Line—this is your second year participating in the anti-poverty campaign, and living on $1.50 a day must be a crazy experience. What was it like?
"The options were extremely limited and there was almost nothing remotely healthy available to me. A pepper costs up to $1.50 depending on where you go, and that's your whole day's rations. I had a lot of ramen noodles and a lot of rice and potatoes and broth. It was very challenging, but I think the more profound part of it came from really realizing what this means for those people. No one should ever be forced to choose between food and education, or medicine and shelter when they don't have the resources. It's very unfair."
What does the campaign mean to you?
"I was profoundly affected by my experience. It's not meant to replicate the experience of the one billion people who live on $1.50 a day globally, but it's meant to stand in solidarity with them. It's very difficult when you have $1.50 per day to spend on food and drink, but for people who live this reality, that money also has to cover medical expenses and education, fuel and shelter––sometimes for an entire family. It was incredibly eye-opening for me about the realities for some families both globally and also here in the United States. I'm thrilled to be supporting this cause."
Learn more about Live Below the Line right here, and catch season three of House of Cards (if you haven't already) on Netflix.
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